Applying for a grant: what you need to know
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The Law Foundation of Ontario invites applications to apply for a Catalyst grant, through our new Catalyst granting program.
The Catalyst program will provide any nonprofit organization working to advance access to justice with an opportunity to apply for up to $150,000 per year of core funding for three years.
The Foundation understands the importance of providing stable core funding to nonprofit organizations working to provide essential services and fill important gaps in the justice sector. Core funding refers to financial support to cover administrative infrastructure, programs, and essential staff.
The Law Foundation of Ontario makes grants to advance access to justice. Grants are made to nonprofit organizations that work to benefit the people of Ontario.
Alignment with the Foundation’s vision, mission, approach and one or more of its statutory objects:
- Applicant’s mandate and approach to its work must be substantially aligned with the Foundation’s vision, mission, and approach
- The applicant’s work must further at least one of the Foundation’s statutory objects
- The applicant must have appropriate legal expertise
Proposed work will advance access to justice:
- The proposed work will help close important gaps in access to justice
- The proposed work must be responsive to the needs and priorities of the community that will be served and applicants should provide evidence of appropriate community support and involvement
Applicants are poised to take advantage of a three-year funding cycle:
- Applicants must be a nonprofit organization operating in Ontario or provide a benefit to Ontario with an established Board that has the skills and expertise needed to oversee the organization
- Key personnel must have skills, expertise and relationships to further their organizational mandate and meet the goals set out in the application
- Applicant demonstrates the capacity to innovate, lead, convene, partner, evolve, and be flexible as required
- Applicant must demonstrate organization-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and have relevant plans and tools in place
- Applicant has processes and policies in place to ensure accountability, transparency, and efficient use of resources with appropriate controls, including audit and financial management
- The funding requested must make a difference and be proportionate to the activities proposed
- Applicant must put forward a viable plan to achieve meaningful impact and to assess that impact
- The overall strategy, methodology, and analyses must be well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the planned activities and desired outcomes
- The applicant must demonstrate the ability to assess and evaluate its own effectiveness and to apply learnings to evolve over time
- The ability to provide services in both official languages is an asset
- The ability to provide services in other languages relevant to the population being served is an asset
Open and supportive relationship building:
- Past history of collaboration and coalition building
- Fair and transparent in dealings with clients, community partners, and funders
Organizations that receive core funding from Legal Aid Ontario or that may receive funding through The Law Foundation of Ontario’s comprehensive grants to law schools should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process. While we are open to receive these applications, we will consider them in light of the funding the Foundation already provides to Legal Aid Ontario and to the law schools.
Determine if you are a good fit for the program by reviewing the website and the FAQs and by speaking to a Grants Officer. We strongly encourage you to speak with a Grants Officer early in the process to discuss your proposal and your organization’s fit with the program.
Successful grant applicants will receive a Letter of Agreement (click here to see an example in PDF), which will contain Grant Terms & Conditions. We recommend that you review the terms of this Agreement before you submit an application for funding. Special conditions may be attached to the approval of a grant.
Complete the application form and submit it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Download the application form in Word format here: Catalyst Application Form
For more information, please email a Grants Officer.
Frequently asked questions
Eligibility to apply
No, you need only be a nonprofit corporation, university or community college. If you are a nonprofit with charitable status, please include your registered charity number on your application.
No, applications need to be made by a nonprofit organization, a university or a community college.
Yes, if administration of the grant can be done through an appropriate accountability structure, e.g. through a law firm in trust or an incorporated nonprofit. If your grant request is approved, the Foundation will require you and your partner to provide a Memorandum of Agreement that sets out clear roles and responsibilities for each of you.
An organization can serve either a single geographic community or several – what matters is that a benefit is provided somewhere in the province.
No. An organization can serve a particular community or group or the general public.
Yes. Organizations based outside Ontario can apply to the Foundation for a grant if it serves people in Ontario.
Legal clinics that receive core funding from Legal Aid Ontario should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process. While we are open to receiving these applications, we will consider them in light of the funding the Foundation already provides to Legal Aid Ontario.
Law schools that receive funding through The Law Foundation of Ontario’s Comprehensive grants to law schools should contact the Foundation to discuss their ideas early in the process. While we are open to receiving these applications, we will consider them in light of the funding the Foundation already provides to the law schools.
No. Applications from any area of the province are welcome.
The Foundation has provided core funding to a small group of nonprofits for many years. Some of these organizations were created by the Foundation and some have received Foundation funding since their inception. As part of the Catalyst program, Foundation grantees who already receive core funding will be allowed to apply for amounts in line with what they have previously received from the Foundation. Organizations that have not previously received core funding can apply for up to $150,000 per year.
Eligible activities and expenses
Yes. Catalyst funding may be used to cover program costs and a portion of those core operating costs related to the access to justice activities.
Yes, but the Foundation’s funds cannot be used for these activities since the Foundation does not fund costs directly related to lobbying, advocating, or promoting a particular position on a legal or public policy issue.
Funding may be used to purchase capital expenditures such as computers and furniture. The cost of these purchases should be reasonable and proportionate to the access to justice activities. We will not fund capital expenditures for immoveable assets (i.e. buildings).
No. The budget you submit with your application must cover a January to December time period to align with the Catalyst program’s funding schedule. We will accept past budgets and financial statements that use your organization’s fiscal year.
After submitting your application
Once the deadline for submissions has passed, your application will be assigned to a Grants Officer for evaluation. Foundation staff may contact you with questions including requests for additional information or clarifications. It is the responsibility of applicants to respond to all inquiries by Foundation staff in a timely manner. Please ensure that if, for whatever reason, the principle contact responsible for the application is unavailable, that an alternative contact is available to respond.
You will be asked to review and sign a standard Letter of Agreement (click here to see an example in PDF), which may also have special conditions attached that are specific to your grant. In general, the first instalment is paid soon after receipt of the signed Letter of Agreement, and remaining instalments are paid in accordance with the schedule drawn up to suit your particular project.
The Foundation wants to be clear about what we can promise to grantees. The Catalyst program will run on a three-year cycle. Foundation revenues vary from year to year, the Foundation has a number of granting programs to consider, and access to justice needs and responses evolve over time. Having a call for applications at the end of each three-year cycle will allow us to review the organizations we support and the level of support in light of these factors.
As part of each three-year cycle, the Foundation will select a group of grantees. We anticipate that those grantees will continue in the Catalyst program for all three years. Grantees will receive a one-year grant in each year of the three-year cycle provided the work is proceeding appropriately and the grantee is reporting in accordance with the guidelines. During the third year of the three year cycle, the Foundation will make a new call for applications. Our intention is provide a stable funding source to each grantee for three years, conditional upon appropriate reporting. In this way, we hope the Catalyst program will support the development and evolution of the nonprofit justice sector.
If your grant is approved, a payment schedule is developed taking into consideration the information provided in the work plan submitted as part of the grant application and often also in consultation with the grantee. In general, the Foundation makes payments in advance, in accordance with each grantee’s needs, and subject to any special conditions of approval being met. The final payment for each of the three years is a hold-back instalment (typically 10% of the total grant) that is paid out on receipt of the final report.
All grantees are required to submit written activity reports, as well as budget-to-actual financial reports, over the course of the grant. Additionally, the Foundation has common quantitative measures, which you must report on. Interim payments are always conditional upon receipt of required reports, in accordance with the schedule established between the Foundation and the grantee. A full final report is required in order to receive payment of the final grant instalment. The timing and frequency of reporting is tailored to the circumstances of each grant. More information about the Foundation’s reporting requirements will be provided.